Friday, August 12, 2011

Blog #12

Sopa! It’s Nya. We’re all here eating breakfast made by the fantastic James Bond as we prepare to experience our first of  lasts in Oloika. Last night was the last time that we had our 8th-grade friends over for tea and cookies. The girls taught us some of the Swahili basics from “hi” to “I will write you a letter.” We had an amazing time teaching them English as well. Overall, it was good to know that girl time here isn’t very different from that at home.

Today is our last full day on the worksite, and hopefully we’ll be able to finish up our projects. We are all so excited to see our hard work translate into varnished tables and benches, and plastered walls that will soon be used by the students of Oloika. We’re off to the worksite!

Shout out to Tae for keeping the technical side of the blog alive, Auntie Koren for being awesome, my entire family (I miss you all and I’ll see you soon!!), and Denia I miss you tons.. (Dennis says hi!!)

Sere for now!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great Day

Blog #11


It’s Charlotte here.  Cayley, Chelsea, and I have just returned from our homestay and it was an amazing experience.  We arrived at our boma on Tuesday night and were openly accepted by everyone in the boma.  Our translators Marisua, Daniel, and Emanuel helped guide us through how to act and what to say to our hosts.  One of the first things we were asked when we arrived was “Who would like to milk a goat?”  Chelsea volunteered to go first and had some difficulties at first, but in the end she got a mug full of milk that one of the children drank.  I also tried to milk the goat and I wasn’t as skilled as her.  We also danced and sang traditional Masai songs with the children before bed.  At the end of the night, we squeezed into bed together on the traditional Masai mattress, a cow hide, and fell fast asleep.
          The next day we woke up bright and early and had some tea before setting out to the river with the goats and cows.  We walked about 2 kilometers with our goats in the hot sun and then back with our translators.  When we returned home, we went under a shady tree to rest.  It was so peaceful and serene that we all fell asleep.  After our midday nap we had lunch and then played with the children for hours.  The kids loved the coloring books we brought them, even though they just scribbled colors all over the page.  We also showed them how to throw a Frisbee, but for some reason every kid threw it upside down.  Then we returned to the boma and received our Masai names.  Cayley was named Nashipai which means forever happy, Chelsea was named something meaning lover of cows, and I was named Naserian meaning peace maker or safe place.  We played some cards at the end of the day with our translators and then went to bed after a long day at the boma.
          The homestay was an amazing experience that I will never forget.  It was so interesting to see how people here live.  I think all of us are now more grateful for what we have and appreciate our life in the US more than ever.  Only a few days left until we return back home.  In these last few days, we are working harder than ever on the site and enjoying the friends we have made here.  Bye for now!

P.S. Mom, Dad, Syd: See you in 3 days! Can’t wait for Nashville!

Computer Problems last blog pictures

We have had some internet problems which may now be resolved so I will attempt to post a new blog later.  If we go off the air these last few days we apologize.  Great trip.  FB

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Problem with Pictures will try later.

Blog #10

Hello from Kenya! It’s Liz again. Just a brief note about the Marshmallow Challenge… Yesterday after work we met with the 8th graders in a classroom. Our tools were 18 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, one (stale) marshmallow, and a foot of masking tape. We were split into teams – half Masai, half Groton – and then we had five minutes to build a free-standing structure to hold up the marshmallow as high as possible. If we broke the spaghetti, we got no replacements – the stakes were clearly high. The group with the highest marshmallow wins.
          Some group took the scientific approach – isosceles triangles, cradles for the marshmallow, bases with intensely taped sides, etc. My group went with the “impale the marshmallow and tape it on top of a teepee of spaghetti” approach – and we won! We got to work together with the local 8th graders, which was really interesting and fun. As our time here is slowly running out, it’s nice to just spend time with kids and work together on something as simple as a marshmallow challenge.
          I miss you guys, see you in 6 days! Enjoy your week alone.
                   Love, Elizabeth

SOPA!!! Marianna here. . .hi mom (and Dad and Michael too since you guys are probably feeling bad that I left you out all my previous blogs. . .woops!). Talia, Rachel, and I just got back this morning from our homestay, which we had been on since Sunday evening. I don’t really want to be speaking for the group, as an experience like staying at a boma with the Masaai Tribe has completely different impacts on different people, but I am pretty sure that everyone had a pretty good time! We arrived at a chief’s boma at around 6:45 in the evening, shared some chai tea (sooo yummy) with our translators and our hosts. Then we had a few hours dancing and singing with all the little children in the boma. It was a lot of fun, but kind of difficult at times when we couldn’t come up with any good songs to sing! The children clapped and snapped a lot of Masaai spirituals, while we searched our arsenal of Disney and sing-a-long songs from our younger years to entertain them. Then after a lovely dinner of rice and cabbage and potato stew, we lay down in an enkaji, a hut, under a mosquito net and fell asleep to the sound of children singing and goats just being silly and baa-ing all over the place.
          The next day we took a morning stroll to some neighboring bomas, but we noticed that many nearby bomas had been abandoned, and were overgrown with weeds and trees. The huts’ roofs had fallen in, and there were no traces of the big, boisterous family that had previously inhabited the houses. It makes perfect sense why they had gone; they can only stay in this place for the dry season, and will move back out into the plains for the wet season. It’s a yearly migration many families make, but something about it made me sad. To build a life from some sticks and some mud, only to leave it behind a few months later is part of what it means to be Masaai, but to me, a New York City kid, it means always moving, never stopping. Maybe it’s because I’ve never liked being in transition (which is obviously why I LOVE being a teenager. . .NOT). Who knows!!! Anyway, after this, we and the kids drew pictures on some construction paper that Rachel had brought, and then retired for the hot hours of the day to our little hut for some reading, relaxing, and card games. Another little walk into the African wilderness brought us to “the swamp,” the watering and grazing location for the bazillion goats that live nearby. It was really lovely to sit on a log watching the herds go by, thinking about the ice cream that awaits back in the US (that’s a hint to all those parents reading this now. Stock up.) It was so surreal to be chilling there talking about Pinkberry and Starbucks! How much more lacking in “sense of place” can you be? However, there were moments when we would just be quiet, taking in the scenery, being reminded that we were in the middle of Kenya. Later, there was more singing, dancing, and sleeping, and now here I am, writing this blog at the dining table before we go back to our afternoon session of work.
          I cannot believe that there is less than a week left before we go home. There still seems to be SO much to do, so many more people to talk to and be friends with, and so little time. I miss everyone at home, but there’s that feeling that something will be left unfinished after we go. Hopefully, we’ll make enough of these last few days so that that weirdness goes away.
P.S. Mom, no word on the Nosim the goat. Which is. . .like I said. . .just kwerd.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to the Work Project

Blog #9

          Hey there! We’re entering our final week here in Oloika. I don’t think it has really hit any of us that we have less than seven days with the people here. For the first two hours of work and tea-time conversations mainly consisted of what was the first thing that we were going to do once we got home. I know a couple of people are home sick (including myself), but I’m convinced that when we get to Wednesday we won’t want to leave. Everyday children swarm us and give us bracelets and the workers are now playing tricks on us and remember our names very well. I think it’s incredible that in only one week we have made so many friends and that I know that they won’t forget us since they still remember students and teachers from last year.
          As an advanced cement-slinger (not actually), our walls on the work site are looking pretty good. The plastering team is the best according to Johnson, the master at wall-making J. We have a lot to get done in last couple of days but I’m sure that we’ll power through.

          Saludos Mami y Papi! Esta es la ultima semena aquí en Kenya. Todavia nos falta mucho trabajo pero ya casi terminamos. Los amo con todo mi corazón y los vere pronto! Ciao!!!!!! J 

Blog #10

Hey -- It’s Cayley! We got back to work today after a beautiful and restful weekend at Losijo. The plaster team, whose job is to throw cement at walls and make them nice and strong, finished a wall they have been working on and started a new one, the carpentry team finished some tables, a door was installed, and other people visited the first graders.
But one thing was unexpected – the Dust Devil. I was innocently chiseling holes next to the window with Chelsea when I felt grains of dust, sand, and wood shavings suddenly whipped into my eyes. The wind picked up all around us. I closed my eyes and covered my mouth because I didn’t really want to eat dust and wood shavings. I didn’t exactly see what it looked like when I was in it but sound and feel of the wild, whooshing wind was pretty intense. After the Dust Devil has past and I felt safe enough to open my eyes, I ran to the window to observe it upset its next victim – the sandy, dusty soccer field. It was really cool to see what we had been in. The wind in a ten foot wide spiral blew the dust up 10, 15, maybe 20 feet into the air. I have never seen anything like it. Except in Wizard of Oz of course. By the way, Tae ranked this the #1 event of this trip so far. That’s how cool it was.
          But for me, the highlight of the day, the Dust Sevil being a close second, was getting my fantastic new hairstyle. While everyone else was slaving away trying to win the Marshmallow Challenge (which Liz will write about), I sat on the living room floor/workplace of a Masai woman named Agnes getting braids in my hair. After 2½ hours of talking to the Agnes and Cindy, my head had been transformed. I have 25 braids and about that many beads covering my head. On the walk back to camp, the friends I had made it the community oohed!!!!! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back From Safari!!!!!

Blog #8

SOPA!!! Marianna here. . .hi mom. . .we are in lovely Losijo Lodge, sleeping in open air bungalows next to a river and a family of crazy baboons J. We have taken two game drives in a large bus (lovingly christened “The Tank), and have seen zebras, wildebeest, impala, gazelle, two annoyed water buffalos, and a million bazillion giraffes. Keep an eye on the horizon for more posts. . .we’re hunting lions later. Xoxo

Sopa! It’s Liz. We are enjoying our weekend off in a lodge (with running water…) by a river. There are beautiful birds here… We are spending time on game drives – no lion, but LOTS of giraffes – relaxing, and thinking. We are reflecting on our last week in Oloika, readying ourselves for the next week. I miss you guys at home! Jane – have fun on your trip. Don’t forget bugspray, a toothbrush, or hair elastics. I can’t wait to hear about it – travel safe. =] Love you guys --- Elizabeth

Sopa! It’s Nya. We’re here in Loisiijo, taking in the beautiful world around us and reflecting on our journeys thus far. We’ve had the opportunity to identify ways that we all can contribute to lessening the problems that affect the world in between game drives and following lion tracks. I miss you, Mom and Emarah. Give everyone a kiss for me. I am having a great time, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Bye--Nya

Sopa!  It’s Charlotte here. We are here at the beautiful Losijo Lodge enjoying some well-deserved break time.  The safari has been fun and I have taken lots of pictures.  We have seen many giraffes, multiple dazzles of zebras, tons of antelopes, a few water buffalo, guinea fowl, gorgeous electric blue birds, and the tracks of lions. Once we have rested up, we will head back to Oloika and get back to work! More later…
P.S. Popi, there are lots of monkeys and baboons here!  You would love it!  Xoxo

Sopa! It’s Talia and Rachel here. The Losijo Lodge is gorgeous and we’re staying in this incredible villa next to the river. I think we all are enjoying a break from work...sanding is just so tiring. The two game drives we’ve been on were amazing, our favorite animal so far is the giraffe. Unfortunately the lions were very good at hiding from us, but who knows maybe we’ll see one tonight or tomorrow morning. It’s nice to have a real bathroom and a real bed but we’re looking forward to work on Monday. See you soon! Xoxo

Takwenya! It’s Cayley. I’m having lots of fun on our little safari “vacation” this weekend! The lodge we are staying at is gorgeous, there are baboons walking all around and the jungle feel of the green trees and bushes around the river is a nice change from the dry desert of Oloika. I’ve seen and taken pictures of lots of cool animals – my favorite animals are the zebras and giraffes. We haven’t seen a lion yet… but hopefully we will tonight! Miss you family – and Matt, have fun at camp. Xoxo, Cayley

Hey guys it’s Chelsea!! Right now we are at Losijo Lodge and have been on two game drives so far.  For the first time I have seen giraffes, zebras, and water buffalos up close and in their natural habitat. Today we woke up at 5:55AM to go on a game drive for 6:30AM. I was really excited to see the lions, but we were unable to find them to my disappointment. But I am still really excited to see other animals and to be in touch with my wild side. Miss you Mom and Dad!!!xoxoxoxoxoxo

Sere. Just kidding- once again, greetings to you all. I am not banned anymore, nor do I have another Anon writing for me. Losijo lodge is actually a pretty cool place. We have running water here and flushed toilets and there is a shower that is not made of buckets. Today and yesterday we had to cross the river in order to get to and back from the so-called “Tank.” As I did not bring my flip-flops, I was cajoled by the man, affectionately referred to as “Fred,” into accepting a piggyback ride across the river. Many animals could be seen from the seemingly invincible “Tank,” such as zebras, gazelles, impalas, and the like. In general, the last two days were fun, but the ludicrous amount of dust and the lack of a camera charger have made me rage quite a few times. I am not sure as to whether I will go on the next and last safari, but I will decide in a bit. Tomorrow we are returning to the camp to work for one more week before we return home. Sere! For real this time. – TL

Hey everyone, Eddie here. I’m just dropping these lines to let the folks back home know that everything is cool. We have been having a great time a Losijo. Last night a bunch of baboons were fighting a leopard by our cabins. Those baboons were mad hard, they weren’t even scared. The safaris have been great; I especially like rolling through the brush in the tank. Today we’re going back to the worksite. The cistern still needs to be dug and we need to tear down a couple of walls. Mad props to all my boys back stateside. –Eddie Lee

Hello, it’s Matt again. So far everything is pretty cool here especially the lodge we are currently staying at. There are a lot of baboons and other animals including zebras and antelopes. Tomorrow we’ll go back to work and Eddie and I will finish (hopefully) digging the cistern for the dining hall. See you all soon. —Matt  

Hey everyone! It’s Carolina. Last night baboons were fighting outside our cabin and apparently there was a leopard. So even though we didn’t get to see lions on the safari, we got to experience PLENTY of wildlife. Regardless, it’s been awesome cruising in our tank thing. I’m super excited to go back to Oloika to see the kids and finish the work we started. SERE!!!!!! 

Hi everyone!  Your kids have been FABULOUS here in Shompole.  I am so impressed by how hard they work and how happy they are to do so.  We have also had several great conversations about cross-cultural experiences and ways we can do our part to ensure that the world’s resources are preserved and fairly distributed to all people on our globe.  It’s a very smart group of kids and I look forward to the ideas that are starting to emerge as we talk about the global issues that affect us here and at home.  –Laurie

Blog # 7

Hey, Eddie here. I’m writing this blog to say hi to all the parents back home and let them know that we are all healthy and happy. Me, Matt and Tae just got back from our homestay. The experience was great; we herded goats, drank tea and mixed with the Masai. This morning we left after exchanging gifts. After breakfast and a shower at camp we got back to work. Work today was good; I spent the day chipping at a wall with a nail and hammer. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Tomorrow we are going away for the weekend for a game drive. I’m very excited about that. I don’t got nothing more to say ‘bout the future plans so I’m going to close it up right here. Night y’ all